Next Version of SMS to be Fully Active-Directory Integrated

The next release of SMS, officially dubbed “SMS 2003,” will not merely extend AD—it will become one of a handful of Microsoft products to be directory-enabled; SMS 2003 will also offer significant arc

When Windows 2000 was first released and the benefits of Active Directory’s IntelliMirror were being extolled by Microsoft’s marketing department, there were many in the industry who declared Microsoft’s Systems Management Server (SMS) a dead product. After all, they reasoned, who would need SMS now that most of its functionality had been built into Win2K? Indeed, while Microsoft declared that SMS was still a viable technology to “extend” the desktop management features of Win2K, it appeared that SMS was viewed internally by Redmond as the neglected stepchild of the BackOffice family; a legacy technology most suitable for “downlevel” clients. Even as recently as last year’s Altiris’ SMS & Windows 2000 Users Conference, it was unclear how much the next release of SMS, codenamed Topaz, would integrate with AD. At the conference in 2001, the SMS development team was forced to spend a significant amount of podium time reassuring the gathered faithful that Microsoft wasn’t abandoning the product.

The official line regarding SMS at May’s Microsoft Management Summit was significantly more upbeat. The next release of SMS, officially dubbed “SMS 2003,” will not merely extend AD—it will become one of a handful of Microsoft products to be directory-enabled; that is, SMS 2003 will actually modify the AD schema if an administrator so chooses.

SMS 2003 will offer significant architectural changes, although the Admin UI and basic functionality will remain essentially the same. For administrators who choose to modify the AD schema when installing SMS 2003, the marriage between SMS and AD will include the following advantages:

  • AD system discovery—Objects in any AD container can be discovered and utilized by SMS.
  • AD user discovery—All AD users, groups and OUs can be discovered by SMS and used for targeting software distributions.
  • AD site integration—In addition to SMS sites being defined by subnets, SMS 2003 can use AD sites for site boundaries.
  • Global roaming for new mobile client—The schema modification will allow SMS clients to roam from one site to another without being reconfigured.
  • No more domain controller modifications—Schema modification will allow clients to find SMS servers by searching the Global Catalog.

For administrators who choose not to modify the AD schema when installing SMS 2003, there will still be a host of Win2K and/or XP improvements, such as:

  • Mobile client support—Mobile clients are a new category of SMS clients that will use HTTP for connectivity to SMS sites and will have a much smaller client footprint than the standard client.
  • BITS or “Drizzle” support—The mobile client will utilize Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) for software distribution, which is bandwidth sensitive, allows for checkpoint restarts of interrupted software installations, and features an optional “download and execute” mode for receiving software distribution packages.
  • Advanced security mode—Eliminates the use of the 80 gazillion SMS local accounts.
  • Utilization of Add/Remove Programs Control Panel—As an alternative to the separate Advertised Programs Manager CP for software distributions.
  • Increased support for MSI—MSI packages will automatically become SMS packages. The SMS Installer will provide native support for MSI repackaging.
  • More robust replication—Utilization of file-level delta replication of packages between sites and to Distribution Points within a site.
  • No more Crystal Reports—The extensible SMS Web Reporting will be built-in.
  • Revamped software metering—Will provide offline metering and usage reporting. No more separate database, site servers or Admin console.
  • Remote desktop support—For XP clients instead of the existing remote control technology.

SMS 2003 is scheduled to go into beta this summer.

About the Author

Mark Wingard, MCSE, MCT, CTT, works as a desktop management specialist for a major research laboratory. He’s been a network professional for more than 14 years, an MCP since 1992 and currently designs AD implementations and SMS deployments.

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Nov 19, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

someone shut this goooookkk up :)

Mon, Aug 11, 2003 Jaime Sao Paulo

If you interested in integrating a software distribution plataform with AD, try taking a look at Novadigm's Radia.

Thu, Sep 5, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Interesting comments on the old MS vs Novell debate. I work for Novell as S/W Engineer and I think (slighly biased here) that we have some great products (eDir vs AD - no contest). Unfortunately we're about 30 times smaller than MS and thus lack the resources for marketing, support etc... so our products are appreciated by those who are bright enough to fully understand them while we are rediculed by those who lack the knowledge to get everything to work smoothly. I think we need to work hard on our documentation and support to assist people using our products and this is happening, but it's going to take time.

Mon, Sep 2, 2002 Nimda KC

Only folks that don't know how to network dog out Novell... Some of you guys just don't get it. Only scared because MS is all you know. Shoot MS is still referring to NetWare 4.0 in thier training text books. MS still uses netbios. No matter how you cut it MS isn't TRUE IP. NetWare 6 is!! Turn off Netbios and see what happens. Why is it a CNA makes more than a MCSE? ZEN is an awesome tool. Can't help it some poeple can't figure it out. Have you ever looked at a Novell login screen in NWADMIN or Console1. Pretty easy. Why is it you have to script the hell out of a NT login script or use VP script or buy a third party program to write a stupid login... Oops I mean logon script for NT. This is stupid....

Thu, Aug 22, 2002 0494751198 Anonymous


Wed, Aug 14, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Most people who manage SMS have nowhere near the knowledge they should for a product that touches virtually every system on your network. To hand the CD over to an NT Admin and have them install it and start clicking away is a disaster waiting to happen. SMS should be approached as you would Exchange, and that is, whoever is in charge better know what the heck they're doing before they blow things up. Find a decent SMS admin, and you'll have a successful implementation with minimal overhead.

Thu, Jul 25, 2002 P Turner Phoenix

Way to centralize the info out there about Topaz. Are they going to apply BITS to the file-level package differencing/transfers? Question, if ZENworks is so great, why did Novell buy Callisto?

Mon, Jul 8, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

No matter what those ZENworks and Novell folks say, SMS is still the most scalable solution available. Let's see them handle over 100,000 client systems for s/w dist, inventory and centralized administration! ZENworks only has "ZEN" in its name.

Tue, Jun 25, 2002 A long time MCSE Seattle, WA

SMS was a nightmare at first, especially with NetWare integration. But it has settled down and been a valuable tool for us. The only complaint I have ever had with SMS is Microsoft's serious lack of direction and commitment to this product. It seems like it has been the stepchild for years.

Mon, Jun 24, 2002 Superman Anonymous

STOP suckling Micrsoft's huge tit & recognize that Novell is ahead of the game, Punk!

Mon, Jun 24, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Idiots like you that say "Novell sucks" are obviously narrow minded & don't notice the fact that MS is only playing catch-up with AD & only hope that SMS will come even slightly close to ZENworks!

Mon, Jun 24, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Novell sucks as well but we all know that

Mon, Jun 17, 2002 SpiderMan Web

Forgot to mention that ZENworks IS 100% eDirectory integrated----- True Directory-enabled network solution and possible to sync with ADS.

Mon, Jun 17, 2002 dumper Anonymous

Do you all notice that carry an advertisement banner of TESTKING, it TESTKING consider braindumps. Think about it ...

Sun, Jun 16, 2002 Jason Anonymous

SMS is/was an overhead.. Im glad there clearing up the account nightmare... Having so many accounts was a security disaster... Anyhow haven't used other products such as TNG so can't comment on how bad it was useful when we used it but correctly was a significant overhead..

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 Snoopy Dallas

SMS used Lan Desk in 1.1/1.2 and portions of 2.0. SMS will alway provide a lot of overhead for a little return on investment.

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 Tom Ford Atlanta

Is SMS better than Intel's Landesk?

Fri, Jun 14, 2002 Dave Hurd Westminster, CO

Stating that SMS 2003 is "fully" AD integrated is a misleading statement. This implies that the all of the functions are integrated into the Active Directory Database/Infrastructure. This is not true. The SMS database will still be separate from Active Directory, and administration will still be separate. It doesn't appear that Microsoft plans to provide any type of connector mechanisms to allow for linking/updating of AD data and SMS data, such as exists for Exchange/AD. To better state the relationship of SMS 2003 and Active Directory, it is better to state that SMS 2003 is Active Directory Aware, and that the schema is extended to allow SMS to leverage the benefits of Active Directory with the benefits of SMS.

Thu, Jun 13, 2002 Ziryanov Denis Anonymous

Very helpful story for me - we plan to use SMS and want to know if this product will be discontinued.

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